It was bound to happen, but at least twice over the past few weeks, we got the date wrong on the daily Reality Board. BUT, the art has been (sort of) getting better. I'm actually quite impressed with our Pokémon series, showing the evolution of Bulbasuar. I'm particularly proud of my Venussaur.
If you'd like to see the previous doodle collections, check them out here:
I hope that this finds you and yours. Please share, like and comment, so I know someone's actually looking at this silliness!
Until next time! Also, please check out my new five-part blog series, "What if this Happened in my day?" which you can find here:
Part I: 1987
Part II: 1988
Part III: 1989
Please take What if this had all happened in my day? Part Three: March 1989-Tenth Grade
Full disclosure-thus far, this series has been pretty fun to write. I appreciate all the feedback and “likes” below and of course, hope that this finds you and yours doing well, happy and healthy in these challenging times we all find ourselves experiencing.
Going through my old journals and yearbooks and other assorted nostalgia has been pretty engaging and in its own way, this series has helped me get back on track with my novel writing, so that’s a bonus. Book four, the final book in the Avery & Angela series will be available later this year!
If you’re just joining us, here’s what we’re doing: For the purposes of this series, I’m going to examine my journals and albums and memory banks beginning on the first of March of the specific year in question. I will begin the examination as though it ran parallel in time to what our experience has been, so “stay at home” begins on March 13 and assumes that the remainder of the school year is cancelled. For each year, I’ll give a summary of what was happening in my life and then I’ll discuss what might have been different had this pandemic happened then. I will also look into the months to come and summer and postulate a bit.
Click here to catch up on PART ONE-1987 and PART TWO-1988!
Tenth Grade: March, 1989
By the time we got to March 1, 1989, for the most part, I’d had a pretty successful sophomore year. With the exception of Geometry, my grades were good. I’d had my first lead role of my high school career in the Fall with LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL playing the feisty W.O. Gant and was about to open ANYTHING GOES as Sir Evelyn Oakleigh, another lead role. Swim season was over and while there was some drama with my coach at the end of the season, I’d earned a second varsity letter. Doing both swimming and the musical had been difficult and I was drained. With the show running March 9-11, I was really looking forward to a break.
It would not be much of a break though, since I, and the rest of the HHS music program were headed to England on March 20. I was really looking forward to this trip.
The young lady I’d been dating broke up with me just after Valentine’s Day, but we’d ended things amicably and remained friends. In retrospect, I’m actually really impressed with the way we worked through the ending of that relationship. We remain friends to this day and I’m very glad for that. It’s often fun, these things we learn when we revisit the past.
My first journal entry for March is from the 6th which starts out saying: “I feel now that I really don’t want to have another serious relationship for a while,” before, a mere two lines later I wrote: “I asked, ______________ out on a date last week. She said yes, but for another weekend since we were both busy this weekend.” The young lady in question was also going on the trip to England and I know I was looking forward to the chance to get to know her better on that trip. I was also looking forward to meeting my English cousins in person for the very first time.
My sister was in her third year in college. My father was still teaching in the East Brunswick School District. My mother had started a new position as director of the EW Senior Citizens Center.
I was fifteen years old.
So, if the world had shut down on March 13, 1987, how would my life have changed?
Well, the musical would have still happened. That’s a good thing because ANYTHING GOES was a ton of fun and sold out at least one night. That final performance on Saturday the 11th might have been everyone’s last “thing we all did” before going into lockdown mode. It would have been somewhat heartening to have that as a last hurrah. It was probably the high point of my performance career at HHS, for reasons that will become more clear when we get to parts 4 and 5.
The trip to England would have been cancelled. This would have been sad for all of us for a variety of reasons: we’d prepared all year and fund-raised all year and it was a once every four years trip at HHS. Outside of that, I believe that trip not happening would have had a significant impact on my life in several areas.
I made a number of new friends on the trip and grew closer to older friends. I really thrived in the independence that we had in England. I’ve filled one entire journal book with thoughts from that trip and re-reading that has been illuminating.
I would not have had the chance to meet my English relatives, which was among the highlights of that trip for me. We are still in touch and I treasure the time we’ve spent together over the years. My children got to meet them last year, which made me extremely happy. I’d like to think that we’d have maintained contact without that trip; my late mother really spearheaded that connection initially and I took over on my own as an adult. We’ve been to visit them several times in the years since and they remain among my favorite people.
I attended Easter Sunday services at York Minster and received communion from the Archbishop. As an Episcopalian, that was pretty awesome. I visited the South African embassy and took part in an Amnesty International protest of Apartheid. Throughout the trip, we danced and sang and did all the other things that teenagers abroad for the first time do. We got fish and chips in newspaper and strolled the unfamiliar streets as though we knew where we were going. It was a blast.
Perhaps most significantly, the trip gave me the opportunity to spend more time with the young lady I’d asked out in early March. We got to know one another better and began dating about five days into the trip. That relationship would continue for over a year. When we returned to the states, we had another three months together at school before she graduated. There was prom, of course, for which I got my very first “during school” job, since my mom said, “If you’re going, you’re paying your own way.” There was graduation, the summer, and we stayed together after she left for college and remained together through the next summer. There were innumerable fun, exciting, and transformative times together and with our friends during that time which I really treasure in my memory. I learned a lot and we shared a lot. She got to know my parents and I got to know her family as well. It was the relationship that pretty much defined the next year and a half of my life and in many ways, had an impact on shaping the person I would grow into in the future.
I also probably would not have decided to run for Junior Class President. I decided late in the spring to run and I actually won.
What about the Summer?
So, if everything stopped on March 13, the transformative experience that was my trip to England would not have occurred. The new friends that I’d hade in that time I might never have connected with. As for the friends I had, I think we’d have stayed friends. I imagine my phone bill would have been ridiculous. Many of my close friends were getting ready to graduate, so it’s hard to say where those relationships would have ended up. I’d like to think we’d have stayed in touch.
I wouldn’t have had reason to get that job at the Market in Cranbury, since there would have been no Prom to pay for, and we’d have been locked down, so I don’t think I would have had any job that summer.
I certainly wouldn’t have appeared as “Baby John” in that summer’s production of WEST SIDE STORY at the OAT. It had long been a dream of mine to be a part of that show, so that would have been out.
Most of my journal entries from that summer are about either West Side Story or about my adventures with my girlfriend and friends. It was a fun summer, filled with unannounced trips down the shore to Seaside, so many movies, an epic fourth of July celebration, and my learning how to try and be a decent boyfriend.
I realize that I’m shorting the details here, but that’s how this one’s going to be. It was a dynamic and exciting time in my life, and despite being a writer who generally enjoys the details, I’m afraid the bulk of these ones are going to remain where they are: in my memories, my journals, and wherever else they may have landed. I think it’s safe to say that my life would have changed pretty dramatically had the world locked down on March 13.
Do I know that for certain? Of course not. Would I eventually have gone on a date with her? Would NJ have opened up enough that we could have gone and had a lunch at Cranbury Lake sometime in August before she left for college? I don’t know. I’d like to think so.
Would the massive disruption that this pandemic has brought have simply washed that chapter of my life away? I don’t know.
What I do know is that if you have young people in your life, it’s worth considering what life-changing experiences and relationships they might have missed out on during all of this. Not to wallow in the things that aren’t happening, but to at least give thought to what they might have been expecting. What they might have been hoping for and what might have happened in their lives that is worth considering, worth acknowledging, worth mourning even.
The young lady in this story and I are still friends today. I’d like to think that we’d still be that if all this had happened, but we were just getting to know one another when all this would just been starting.
I am also left to wonder who I would have been at the end of that summer and who I’d have been going forward. That’s a bit more of a thought experiment than I’ve been able to wrap my head around as of yet. That next year would have been very different, I think had the world shut down in March of 1989. But we’ll get to that one next week.
I hope you’re all well and staying safe. Please take a moment to like, share and/or comment below! It makes a real difference!
What if this had all happened in my day? Part Two: March 1988-Ninth Grade
So, after I had so much fun writing part one, I decided to keep going. I don’t know that every year will be as dramatic or pivotal as that eighth grade one turned out to be, but I think that’s part of the fun for me. Going through old journals and albums and yearbooks is even more fun when it’s for work!
So again, I hope that this finds you and yours safe and healthy and staying at home. We’ve been in our house over a month now.
For the purposes of this series, I’m going to examine my journals and albums and memory banks beginning on the first of March of the specific year in question. I will begin the examination as though it ran parallel in time to what our experience has been, so “stay at home” begins on March 13 and assumes that the remainder of the school year is cancelled. For each year, I’ll give a summary of what was happening in my life and then I’ll discuss what might have been different had this pandemic happened then. I will also look into the months to come and summer and postulate a bit.
Ninth Grade: March, 1988
To that point, I’d had a good first year of high school. I’d made the honor roll all year, I’d made a lot of new friends, earned my first varsity letter on the swim team, made the advanced choir, had a part in the fall play (THE CRUCIBLE) and CABARET, my first high school musical, in which I had a supporting part with a solo, a ton of stage time and some very cool dance numbers, was about to open.
I recently watched CABARET and was really impressed with the look and feel of the show and choreography, but also equally impressed with how much we got away with! It was fun to see again, although I still had no business trying to solo on “Tomorrow Belongs to Me,” you know, since I’m not a tenor, but I digress. The show was fun and figures prominently in my memories of that year.
I had just started dating a really wonderful young woman on the first of March. We’d become very good friends in the preceding months before she asked me out on Sadie Hawkins Day, February 29 and we started dating March 1. As part of the music program, we were both really looking forward to the band/choir trip to Akren, NY, which is near Niagara Falls.
My sister was in her second year of college in Ohio. My dad was still teaching in the East Brunswick School District and my mother was still running the ECHO program in Trenton, which ran activities for and gave assistance to senior citizens in the area.
So, if the world had shut down on March 13, 1987,
how would my life have changed?
Well, it would have changed a decent amount, I think. CABARET would have been cancelled, the band trip to NY would have been cancelled, all of the Spring Concerts and sports as well. The Spring One Act plays in May would have been cancelled as well, although in early March they were not yet on my radar as something I was going to do.
Two fun fact about those one acts:
So, all of those events would have been cancelled. That would have been a lot of fun missed, especially CABARET. That show might have been, for me, about the purest fun I had in a show in my four years at HHS.
My relationship with the young lady would only have been thirteen days old when the stay-at-home stuff began. Even without the shadow a pandemic, we talked on the phone a lot, so we would have had that. I didn’t have a phone in my room yet: I was set to get one in June, if I maintained honor roll grades all year, so it still would have been stretching the long cord from the rotary phone down the stairs into the basement in order to have any level of privacy. That privacy would have been a lot harder to come by with my sister likely home from college (missing out on one of her earliest journalistic efforts covering her college’s Division III Men’s Basketball National Championship. Another fun fact: the MVP of that tournament/Division III National Player of the year, from her school, went on to play minor league baseball and was replaced in the outfield by one Michael Jordan during his brief foray into baseball).
I was an impulsive fourteen-year-old in those days and I had a bike that I rode everywhere. (Ten speeds!) I have a hard time thinking that I wouldn’t have ridden over to see friends and my girlfriend, at least from the sidewalk. I think my father and my sister would have largely kept to themselves. Being locked down would have been harder for my mother and I, as extroverts. I don’t know if I would have ridden all over to see people or not, nor do I know how much freedom I might have had to do so. I’m not sure if my parents would have been super strict or if they’d want me to get out and, as Gramma Kugs used to say, “run the stink off.” I just don’t know, but I have a hard time thinking I wouldn’t have pushed the envelope as I was very young, very impulsive, very engaged with my friends, excited about my new romance, and still very much a little stupid. I was also a developing hypochondriac, so who knows?
Overall, I’m not certain my life would have changed dramatically, except for the awesome experiences missed: the shows missed, the time with new friends, and time with my first official high school girlfriend would have been big losses, but I’d like to think that the relationships would have been sustained.
I think I would have written a LOT more mediocre songs and poetry than I actually already did in that time. Perhaps that is the greatest thing from which the world was saved with this not having occurred in the Spring of 1988.
What about the Summer?
The Summer of 1988 was a strange one. I remember coming home from school on the last day looking forward to summer and a much-needed break from my hard work as a freshman. In retrospect, I had actually worked really hard that year. I’d really had to work at math and science to get my grades up. I scored well enough in science to move into honors biology as a sophomore, which had been a goal of mine. I’d wanted to earn a varsity letter and I had. I’d made honor roll all year so my own personal rotary phone was waiting for me in my room. I had big goal for the summer swim season, primarily beating the kid from WWP who had touched me out for first place in the breaststroke championship race the previous summer. I’d had a slow burn for him all year, so I was looking forward to swim practice kicking off. I had a small part, with lines even, in the summer production of OKLAHOMA at OAT, so that was on the horizon too.
As I walked in the door, tossing my bag on the couch, planning to spend the remains of the day reading through my yearbook, which I’d waited to do until the year was over, and listen to Living Colour’s “Vivid,” I was greeted by my mother.
“Turn around, I’m taking you to your new summer job.”
She drove me to the historic Cranbury Inn, where I was the latest in a revolving door of fourteen-year-old dishwashers. I made it through the whole summer and actually had a pretty interesting experience, which I wrote about on the old blog. The days ahead would be filled with swim practice in the morning, work the rest of the day and then show rehearsal in the evenings. My plans for a summer of leisure were over before they began.
But, as I pore through my journals, it was a pretty fine summer. The show was good; I won my age group race in the championship meet despite almost missing the race because I’d fallen asleep in the marshalling area; I’d made some real money, as opposed to what I had been making mowing lawns the previous years. It was a real “getting tossed into the deep end” sort of moment with the restaurant industry and I think I can say with confidence that that aspect of this all worked out.
In addition, I had made several friends who had their own cars, which really opened up the opportunity for me to have my first real taste of social freedom. Instead of needing to have my parents take me everywhere, or bum rides from my sister and her friends, I had my own friends to coordinate travel with. The journal is full of evenings where my friends and I went and did something after rehearsal or got together on the weekends, completely independent from my family. I remember really embracing that sense of independence and enjoying the old “Tell you parents you’re going to the movies but really driving down to Seaside” routine, which we did a few times that summer. That was a real first taste of that type of social life for me and I loved it. It would wane a bit in the coming years until I had my own car and driver’s license, but that first taste of freedom that summer was exquisite.
Would any of that have happened if the shutdown had continued into the summer? I’m not sure. I would have missed many of the experiences I had but much of my journals from the summer of 1988 is about friends and relationships. I’d like to think that those would have continued, even if we were shut down from hanging out together.
So, in the end, I think there would have been some losses had this happened in 1988, but in very different ways than had it occurred in 1987. Assuming 1987 happened as it actually did; I think many of the people I would have connected with during a 1988 version of lockdown would have still been in my life. I’d like to think we would have made it through together. And, I have a suspicion I’d have found my way into the restaurant industry at some point. And I wouldn’t have had to clean that grease trap at the Cranbury Inn.
Thanks for reading. I’ll be back with part three, 1989: tenth grade, whenever I get around to writing it. I journaled a lot more that year, so this should be thoroughly embarrassing for me to research. Stay tuned and stay safe!
Greetings from our household to yours! I hope that this finds you well and that you and yours are happy, healthy, and staying home.
We are well into our second month at home here, and now into our second month of our daily reality board! It's helped us all keep track of the day and have some fun taking turns doing the art!
This is the third such post on this topic, so please check out the others down the page!
Let me know which ones are your favorites in the comments! Stay safe!
What if this had all happened in “my day?”
I’d like to start this new series off by saying that I hope that this finds you and yours well, happy and healthy. These are unprecedented times in our world and that is my genuine hope for you and yours, just as it is for me and mine. And ours.
I was inspired to write this because of the situation that we all find ourselves in. I love alternative history. I don’t often read it, but I really enjoy it when I do. Harry Turtledove is a lot of fun to read, for example. I think I, like most people, often ponder “what if,” maybe more than I should.
So, as our world struggles with COVID, I’ve decided to do a little bit of a deep dive into my own personal history and try to discern how my life would have changed if the crisis we are experiencing now would have happened in my teen years.
For the purposes of this, I’m going to examine my journals and memory banks beginning in March of my eighth-grade year and finish my senior year. I will begin the examination as though it ran parallel in time to what our experience has been, so, with “stay at home” beginning on March 13 and assumes that the remainder of the school year is cancelled.
I honestly have no idea how this is going to look when it’s all done, but I feel like doing it. So that’s what I’m doing. For each year, I’ll give a summary of what was happening in my life and then I’ll discuss what might have been different had this pandemic happened then. I will also look into the months to come and postulate a bit.
I hope this is as interesting to you as it is to me.
Eighth Grade: March, 1987
Where I was:
I was an eighth grader in my final year at St. Paul’s School. I’d had a pretty intense experience there to say the least. I had some difficult years, but by the time we got to this point, I had found a bit of a niche and had matured a bit. I’d just finished a successful basketball season where our team made the CYO playoffs for the first time in forever. I’d gained some confidence; I’d gotten my acne under control (a little) and was beginning to really look forward to high school. Most of my classmates were headed to Notre Dame High, but I was headed to Hightstown High, and I was really excited about it the “Clean slate” aspect of that change. I’d been doing summer community theater for several summers and already knew a lot of kids at the school.
I was really looking forward to the eighth-grade class trip to Washington, DC. We’d been pen pals with a school from Florida all year, and I was looking forward to meeting Cindy, with whom I’d exchanged letters for months. I somehow had this idea that that trip was going to be a sort of jumping off point for me in terms of leaving SPS behind and starting a new experience at HHS. It turned out very much to be just that. It was a great trip that was a real watershed moment for me for a variety of reasons.
My grades were fine. There was a girl at SPS who I really liked, but she had no interest in me. I’d dated a girl from another school who I met at the Trinity Church Rummage sale, but we only went out a few times and she lived too far away for me to ride my bike to hang out with her, so that relationship had run its course. We’d really been more of a phone relationship.
I had a lead part in the spring play where I played the angel Gabriel. I have no memory of the show itself, but it was a chance to perform. We’d started rehearsals. There’s a picture of me in the yearbook in costume.
As March began, I was also on break from the Trinity Choir. My voice had changed so I’d stepped away while it did that. In the fall, the plan was to return as bass now that I was no longer a treble.
So, if the world had shut down on March 13, 1987,
how would my life have changed?
I think I can say with little hesitation that it would have changed dramatically. The trip to DC would have been scrapped, and the confidence and closure that I achieved on that trip might not have happened.
On a positive note, I don’t think I would have gotten detention and banned from the SPS St. Patrick’s Day dance for play-fighting with Jean in the hallway on the way to science class, so that would have been a positive. He still got to go. I didn’t. Sister K really had it in for me.
I would have missed out on graduation, which was a big moment for me. Sometime in April, I impressed my English teacher by completing my “Memorizing a poem” project in one night. I’d been assigned “The Road not Taken” by Robert Frost and I’d presented it, with great and theatrical aplomb, the day after it was assigned. She sent me to Father Dave, who was also impressed, to the point that he gave me the honor of reading aloud the “Desiderata” poem, which the class was presenting in song and spoken form at our graduation. After eight very up and down years at SPS, that moment where I led the got to stand in the pulpit and read the poem, which I still remember beginning, “Go placidly amid the noise and haste and remember what peace there may be in silence,” was a real moment of catharsis for me. I’m not really sure how I would have moved on from that experience without those events. I wouldn’t have lip-synched “You’ve lost that loving feeling” with Mike at the eighth-grade dance. Nor would I have danced with both Sister K (with whom, as I mentioned, I’d had a long and unpleasant history) nor with my math teacher, who insisted that I dance with her to “Lady in Red.”
I’m not sure where to put either of those last two things, really. But, I also would not likely have embarrased myself at a graduation party held at the home of the girl I had a crush on when I made one last attempt to convince her to date me. Yes, I remember what I said and no, I’m not telling you.
It’s likely my sister would have come home early from college. My father, who was a public-school teacher would have been home. My mother, who worked with senior citizens likely would have had her office closed. I wonder if she would have stayed home and not continued to look in on the seniors that she helped care for. I don’t know for sure.
I had a few kids in our neighborhood that I was friendly with, but most of my closest friends at the time lived further away. I imagine that Mom and Dad would have given me books to read and report on, much like I’ve done with the kids. I can’t imagine that SPS would have been equipped to do distance learning. This was 1987. The school had just gotten computers and they used cassettes to run programs.
What about the summer?
While much of that would have likely had an impact on me, as I look at the summer of 1987, which was to be one of the most important summers of my life, I’m genuinely anxious to think about what might have happened if things were shut down for that.
The summer of ‘87 had me in a small role in a production of “Brigadoon” at the OAT, but more importantly, I was headed to the high school version of the Tomato Patch Arts Camp at the local community college. On the heels of a successful end of my time at SPS, and the prospect of starting fresh at HHS, I was primed and ready for a Kugs reboot. (Although we didn’t have that word back then.)
The camp itself was a transformative experience for me. I decided that I was just going to be myself, but with one small difference: I would, for a change, no longer be afraid of anyone or anything. I decided that I was going to meet every single kid in the camp. I was going to make friends with loads of new people and I was just going to have fun. And I did. I met every single person in the program. I met some of the best friends I was to ever have in that time, so, so many of whom I am still friends with today. Many of them went to school with me at HHS. Many of them were at my father’s funeral in 1990. Some of them were at my wedding in 1999. And it was just FUN! It was a rebirth for me and I relished in it whole-heartedly.
And, I had a girlfriend, among my first ever and she was wonderful. We only dated for a month or two, but it was wonderful. We even exchanged “one-week anniversary” poems. I still have the one she wrote, and the friendship bracelet she made me. When the relationship ended, we remained friends afterwards and are friends to this day. Our families were friends for years and I remember that she was the first person to arrive at my father’s funeral years later and that she held my hand until I was ready to let go. If that summer hadn’t happened, I don’t know that we would have met in the same way. I might never have seen Rodney Dangerfield in “Back to School,” with her and her parents, surreptitiously holding hands while her parents weren’t looking.
If the summer activities had been cancelled, there would have been so, so much disruption to the way that my life actually ended up going. As it happened, by the time school started in the fall, I was pumped and ready and confident to start my life as a high school student. The experience of meeting the kids from Florida on the school DC trip, graduating SPS and leaving in a positive way and my experience at Tomato Patch that next summer totally helped me reform and reshape who I was at thirteen. If I’d spent that time locked down in the house, I genuinely don’t know what version of myself would have emerged. There are friends I would never have met. There are live-shaping experiences I would never have had. There are relationships that might never have occurred.
All that said, I’m curious how my parents and sister and I would have managed that time. We’d finally gotten cable, so we’d have had that going for us, in addition to the sweet “Odyssey” video game system that I was the only kid in North America still using. That KC Munchkin game would have gotten some use. I used to spend a lot of time in those days in my room or in the basement, where I had a antennae-based TV, and all my comic books and a couch. I imagine my father, who was a PE teacher would have had me doing some sort of exercising with him. Mom and Dad were both into gardening, so I imagine I’d have been put to work on that sort of thing as well. I can’t imagine that they’d let me sleep all day. That aspect of this is interesting to think about. We had a pop-up camper that I think my mother would have used as her refuge, much as she did when she was trying to work on her college courses with me at her heels as a first grader.
So, in the end, if this had happened to me in my eighth-grade year, I think it would have been very disruptive to the life I ended up living, in ways that I can see very clearly. Then, as now, we’d have managed, but there would likely have been huge changes in the way the following years went for me, especially if the summer didn’t happen. Stay tuned for a look at ninth grade…which should be interesting since I have journals from then…
Until then, stay safe and let me know what you think in the comments section!
So, we've continued our daily "Reality Board," mostly because I really do need the help. The kids art continues to be good and I'd like to think that I'm improving. My T-Rex is pretty cool, right?
I hope that you and yours are doing well. Stay safe and enjoy the artwork!